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Discover the historic legacy of the US capital, Washington DC. Home to all three branches of the federal government and some of the most recognisable US landmarks - the giant domed Capitol building on 'the Hill', home to the Senate and the House of Representatives, the vast Library of Congress and the Supreme Court, and of course The White House itself, the residence of very U.S. president since John Adams in 1800.

Nearby the National Mall stretches over two miles and is America’s most visited national park, where the past, present and future come together. The monuments and memorials in this park honour American forefathers and heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. From the “I Have a Dream” speech to the AIDS Quilt, the Mall is the national stage where movements and celebrations take place, where people gather to have their voices heard. As your students wander along the wide, pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined boulevards they can take in the history and scenery of this stretch of land nicknamed America’s front yard, which includes the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art and the National Archives. Across the Potomac River lie the Arlington National Cemetery and The Pentagon.

01 Tour Highlights

Civil Rights Walking Tour

From black America, to women to gay rights, on this special Civil Rights tour, your group will learn about the history of the Civil Rights movement in downtown Washington. Visits and discussion include:-

  • Site of the Epicurean Eating House and the Snow Riots
  • Site of the National Era offices – that first serialised Uncle Tom’s Cabin and was the site of the Pearl Riots
  • Pennsylvania Avenue – the story behind the Women’s Suffrage Parade
  • U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
  • Freedom Plaza & The Willard Intercontinental Hotel
  • Story of the Freedom Riders
  • The White House North Lawn - site of many protests for Civil Rights of all kinds

The National Museum of African American History and Culture

Established in 2003 by an Act of Congress, The National Museum of African American History and Culture became the 19th Smithsonian Institution museum. It is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, art, history, and culture. The building has five floors above ground and three floors below with an exterior inspired by crowns used in West African art. It houses 11 exhibitions covering a variety of topics from history and culture to community, music and the arts. The exhibitions include:-

  • Slavery & Freedom - as the centrepiece of the museum, this exhibition explores the complex story of slavery and freedom.
  • Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: Era of Segregation 1876-1968 - this exhibition takes visitors from the end of Reconstruction through the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
  • A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond - the impact of African Americans on life in the United States—social, economic, political, and cultural—from the death of Martin Luther King Jr. to the second election of President Barack Obama.
  • Making a Way Out of No Way - learn about the ways in which African Americans created possibilities in a world that denied them opportunities.
  • Sports: Levelling the Playing Field - learn how African Americans have contributed to sports in America and how sports have helped people respond to injustice.

Other Visits and Attractions in Washington

Smithsonian Institution

Not only the world’s largest museum complex, the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, galleries and the National Zoo are dedicated to public education, research, national service, and scholarship in art, design, science, technology, history, and culture. It’s National Air and Space Museum is one of the most popular in the world, and the new National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) opened in September 2016.

The National Archives

The National Archives in downtown Washington is home to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, plus one of four copies of the Magna Carta. These and other historical documents help tell the stories of America's history as a nation and as a people.

Capitol Building

The United States Capitol is a monument, a working office building, and one of the most recognisable symbols of representative democracy in the world. The world-famous domed building is home to the House and Senate and it’s where America’s congressmen and congresswomen conduct business, debate laws and pass bills on behalf of the American people. The Capitol also houses an important collection of American art, and it is an architectural achievement in its own right.

White House Visitors Centre

Since John Adams first took residence in 1800, every president since has called The White House and its surrounding grounds his place of work, rest, and solitude. Recognisable around the world, the White House stands as a symbol of democracy. Its park grounds serve not only as the seat of the executive branch of government of the United States of America, but also as an iconic place for civil discourse.

A tour of The White House is normally arranged via the British Embassy in Washington however, until further notice access for foreign nationals to White House tours as part of an Embassy-sponsored public tour group is on hold. Even when tours do become possible, availability is limited, and tours can be subject to last minute cancellation. Instead we recommend you visit the White House Visitor Centre which offers a window into the president's iconic home. Your students can explore an interactive touchscreen tour of the White House, view over 90 artefacts from the White House collection and view the 14 minute film, "White House: Reflections From Within."

Ford's Theatre

Ford's Theatre is a historic theatre in Washington, D.C., used for various stage performances beginning in the 1860s. It also claims one of the great crime stories of all time. On April 14, 1865, in full view of a theatre audience packed to the walls and celebrating the impending end of a brutal war, the President of the United States was assassinated. The murderer was not only seen by all, he was instantly recognizable to most - and he got away. There are a variety of visit options available but we recommend the Historic Site Visit.

Lincoln Memorial & Reflecting Pool

Towering over the Reflecting Pool this majestic memorial is a shrine to Abraham Lincoln - 190 feet long and 119 feet wide it reaches a height of just under 100 feet. Its design inspired by ancient Greek temples consists of 36 marble columns, each representing one state in the U.S. at the date of President Lincoln’s death. As you climb the steps into the interior you will see a memorable quote above the 19-foot tall, 175-ton statue of a seated Abraham Lincoln overlooking the Mall of the country that he fought so hard to preserve and unite. The quote reads "In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever."

To the left of the statue is Lincoln’s great speech, the Gettysburg Address, perhaps the most famous in U.S. history. Every single word of the Address is etched into the wall to inspire Americans just as it did so in 1863. To the right is the entire Second Inaugural Address, given in March of 1865 and mere months before Lincoln’s death. With a clear sky the view from the steps at sunset is impressive, in particular with the Washington Monument in the distance. As you descend you’ll reach the Reflecting Pool, a permanent part of the backdrop for inaugurations, demonstrations, rallies, and marches, including the 1963 March on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at which he delivered his famed 'I Have a Dream' speech. The Reflecting Pool also appears in the film Forrest Gump during his speech before an anti-war demonstration.

International Spy Museum

Enter the shadow-world of spying where all is not what it seems, and your students will discover a new way of thinking about the world in which they live. The International Spy Museum is committed to educating students and educators about espionage in an engaging way and to providing a context that fosters understanding of its important role in and impact on current and historic events. The Museum provides unique resources for educators and students that are both inter- and multi-disciplinary.

02 Accommodation

Comfort Inn
We work with a range of Comfort Inn’s all located in Midtown Manhattan. Comfort Inn is a well known hotel chain with modern furnishings and a good standard of accommodation.

Capitol Skyline
Located in Downtown Washington, this is a very good standard of accommodation with great facilities.

Hotel Harrington
This is a large, traditional hotel with a basic level of facilities. Its superb location, close to Pennsylvania Avenue means its practically neighbours with the White House.

03 Further Information

Your Meals

As there are numerous places in Washington to choose from to grab breakfast, a snack for lunch, or a meal for dinner, it is easy to make your own arrangements. If however, you prefer, your Study Experiences Tours Specialist can pre-book evening meals for your group to enjoy at selected restaurants that offer good service and decent portions of quality food to suit students on a budget. Breakfast is available to pre-book at some of the hotels we use.

Your Group Size

Our prices are based on a minimum group size of 20 students.

Your Choice of Travel Dates

As our Washington trips are available throughout the year, during term time and also during half terms and holidays, you are able to select travel dates that suit you and your students.

Our most popular travel periods for student groups are during the February and October half terms and the Easter holidays. Therefore should you be planning on travelling during these periods, we recommend that you contact us to plan your tour as early as possible to ensure we still have availability for your preferred travel dates.

Your Educational Visits & Attractions

To ensure that you make the most of your trip to Washington your Tours Specialist is able to arrange a wide choice of educational visits, activities and dining options. Full details of everything you might wish to see and do are available in our Washington ‘Educational Visits and Attractions Guide’.

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